In the before times, pre-pandemic, Carl Kuo took a regular trip to Costco to buy gloves by the thousands.
Kuo is the owner of Mission Ink Tattoo & Piercing in San Francisco. He said his artists typically go through four or five pairs of gloves for each tattoo they do, while they set up their work stations, tear them down, and create art in between.
“Now they just have zero stock. Whenever [gloves] come in, they’ll be gone within an hour,” he told Insider. “And this is, what, July? Months into COVID.”
Kuo is one of three tattoo and piercing shop owners who told Insider that they’re still seeing serious shortages and skyrocketing prices for items their shops use daily, crucial supplies like gloves and disinfectant. Combined with a year of frequent shut-downs and restrictions on their operations, supplies scarcities are just another frustrating cost of doing business.
“We’re fighting with the healthcare providers, who rightfully should have first dibs on everything,” Kuo said.
‘You can’t just use less’
The shortages come at a time when business is booming for the tattoo and piercing industry.
Shop owners recently told Insider that they’re busier than they’ve ever been and that people are lining up down the block to get a new piercing or tattoo to memorialize loved ones who died during the pandemic, or simply to feel alive again after a year in isolation. According to IBIS World analysts, the $1.2 billion tattoo artist industry is expected to increase its market size by 6.6% this year.
Paul Stoll, the owner of a piercing shop called Body Manipulations, also in San Francisco, told Insider he’s noticed a surge in demand, but that “the numbers can also be askew” – for instance, a box of gloves that typically cost him $8 is now $45, a cost he’s had to pass on to his customers.
“If you’re good at business, you have to raise your price a little bit. You have to account for that,” he said.
Kuo said that during particularly lean times supplies-wise, he’s had to resort to other means of getting what he needs: One of his piercers wears extra-small gloves, and when he couldn’t find any in stock, he had a friend in Los Angeles FedEx him a box to tide him over.
Kuo said he’s also had to raise prices for piercings and tattoos, especially in light of jewelry suppliers raising theirs: Everything from implant-grade stainless steel to titanium to gold has gotten more expensive, he said.
Paul Collurafici, the owner of Tattoo Factory in Chicago, said he’s also had a hard time finding gloves, and is seeing a significant spike in prices: A case of 12 boxes of gloves used to cost him $50 – “now you’re lucky to find a case for $200,” he said.
Collurafici is seeing prices continue to soar for other essential items as well. A large pack of paper towels, which he said his shop goes through “like crazy,” used to cost him $14.99, but now runs him upwards of $49. Cavicide, a surface disinfectant that kills bacteria and viruses, now costs as much him as $30 a gallon, up from $7.
There are also limits on how many cases of the solution suppliers will sell him, which has made tracking it down “a never-ending job.”
“We need a certain amount,” he said. “You can’t just use less.”
Whether you’re caring for someone who’s sick or cleaning your home, disposable gloves add protection.
Nitrile gloves are especially great because they are stronger than latex, plastic, or vinyl.
We found the best disposable glove options for food prepping, industrial work, cleaning, and more.
Though we tend to lean more toward “reusable” than “disposable” these days, having disposable gloves on hand is a safe and recommended practice to follow. The CDC recommends wearing gloves for cleaning, caring for someone who’s sick, and for manufacturing, public service, and transportation industries and occupations. And if you do any industrial work where you may encounter potentially hazardous materials, wearing heavy-duty gloves is recommended by Environmental Health and Safety programs for safety.
Even just around the house, disposable gloves are great for everything from deep cleaning to handling food for backyard barbecues. We found options from standard nitrile gloves to heavy-duty options. Our picks are also all latex-free to avoid potential allergic reactions.
What we like: Easy-to-grip tactile fingertips, rip-proof, elegant sky blue design
Box count: 100
Nitrile gloves are one of the best materials for disposable gloves because they protect against most chemicals and infectious agents. The Hand E-Touch Disposable Nitrile Gloves allow for precise control with textured tips and can be used for medical situations, cleaning, salon work, food prep, and more. These gloves are a top pick because they are thick enough to provide protection, yet lightweight and stretchy for comfortable wear.
What we like: Ambidextrous hand orientation, durable HDPE material, covers wrists, FDA compliant
Box count: 525
These clear gloves are simple, easy to slip on, and are constructed with high-density polyethylene. The fact that they feature a long cuff design to prevent water from seeping into your sleeves and are compliant with FDA standards make them especially fit for food handling.
What we love: All-around textured protection, chemical- and puncture-resistant, repel dirt and grime
Box count: 100
When working with high-intensity tools or toxic chemicals, protective gloves are vital to protect against exposure via skin contact. Gloveworks’ Heavy-Duty Industrial Nitrile Gloves with Diamond Grip Box is fit for industrial use because of their thick and textured protection that makes for a heavier duty glove that’s especially resistant to ripping.
These gloves also offer good elasticity and are puncture- and chemical-resistant. These high-grade nitrile gloves are especially good for automotive, janitorial, painting, and plumbing uses.
What we love: Beaded cuff, great for sensitive skin, solvent-resistant
Box count: 40
Mr. Clean is one of the most well-known faces in the cleaning aisle, but that’s not the only reason the brand’s nitrile solvent-resistant gloves are fit for ridding household messes and grime. True to the name, the gloves are well-designed to block residue from soaking onto your fingers or palms — a must for when you’re ready to tackle kitchen countertops, sink faucets, or wiping down furniture.
The gloves are also great for sensitive skin and come with a beaded cuff so they stay intact better while cleaning.
What we love: Thick PVC material, comes in various sizes, ambidextrous hand orientation
Box count: 100
For one-time-use gloves, you may not want to spend much. Medpride’s Medical Vinyl Examination Gloves are an affordable option that aren’t quite as thick as nitrile gloves but are still a step up from cheaply-made plastic gloves prone to tears. They come in small, medium, large, and extra-large size options to ensure a good fit.
These gloves are fit to be used by medical workers and home or hospice care workers, but they are also an affordable solution if you just want to keep some disposable gloves on hand around the house.
What we love: Highly stretchable, come in various sizes, huge number of gloves per box
Box count: 1,000
Dre Health’s Powder-Free Disposable Gloves are made of a strong nitrile blend that offers good grip and ideal stretch. An especially good option for those who need to supply employees with gloves or who work in an industry where they need constant disposable gloves at the ready, this bulk option offers serious value.
These gloves can be used for everything from medical exams to gardening and the beaded cuffs prevent them from slipping. They also come in four sizes to ensure a good fit.
If you prefer mittens as your hand-warming method of choice, check out our guide on the best mittens.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
The first official day of winter is on December 21, but with freezing temperatures and snowstorms already here, it’s safe to say the season started early this year. If those cheap knit gloves you’ve had for ages are looking a little worse for wear, it’s time to consider picking out a dependable pair of winter gloves.
Winter gloves come in many varieties, including thermal, waterproof, and tech-friendly, so it’s important to pick out a pair that fits your intended use. Whether you’re planning a fun ski trip, taking work calls for long hours in the elements, or you just need something warm enough to handle quick trips outside, these are the gloves that will keep frostbite at bay.
We did the research to find the best winter gloves you can buy to keep your hands nice and toasty for this year’s winter and for many more winters to come.
Pros: Affordable, warm, true to size, waterproof, unisex, good grip
Cons: Fingers of gloves may be slightly too long for those with small hands
Sizing options: S-XL
The Ozero Thermal -30°F Suede Leather Winter Gloves feature five layers of materials to keep your hands warm and dry in below-freezing temperatures. The outer layers of polar fleece and waterproof TPU provide thermal retention and moisture-wicking, while the middle firm sponge layer keeps the shape of the glove intact.
The inner layers include Heatlok insulated cotton and TR thermal cotton, which both ensure your hands stay warm — even when the temperature drops down to -20°F. The gloves also feature a windproof cuff at the wrist that prevents cold air from creeping inside.
The deerskin suede leather gloves are made with a solid grip, so they’re the perfect winter accessory for partaking in cold weather activities or even just driving on a brisk winter morning. The gloves come in sizes small to extra large, so they should fit hands of all sizes.
Cons: Slightly too bulky for working outside with small materials
Sizing options: S-XXL
There’s a reason why the clothing brand Carhartt is synonymous with durable outdoor apparel, as it has been producing high-quality outerwear and accessories since 1889. Carhartt’s Men’s W.P. Waterproof Insulated Gloves are no exception to the rule.
The gloves are made with a long-lasting polytex shell that features a FastDry lining to wick away moisture as you use them, so you can say goodbye to sweaty palms.
One thing to keep in mind: Some users say they aren’t the most practical option if you plan on working outdoors in cold temperatures, because they are too bulky to pick up small items such as nuts and bolts.
Pros: Tech-friendly, warm, good grip, variety of colors to choose from
Cons: Not waterproof
Sizing options: XS-L
If you want to be able to check your phone without removing your gloves, try The North Face Etip Gloves. These tech-friendly gloves are perfect for those who still like to stay connected while enjoying the great outdoors.
Your hands will stay warm and toasty as you scroll through Facebook, thanks to the gloves’ five-finger touch capability. The gloves also feature extra silicone grip on the palm, so your hands won’t slip as you scroll, ski, or shovel.
The sturdy gloves use a lock clip system, so you can store them together and you’ll never have to worry about losing one. There are several colors to choose from including purple, gray, and pink.
Pros: Unisex, great for outdoor activities, warm, affordable, tech-friendly
Cons: Not waterproof, not long enough for some
Sizing options: M-XL
If you like to stay active outdoors even in the wintertime, you need to find a pair of gloves that will not only offer warmth but also dexterity. Look no further than the Vbiger Winter Warm Touch Screen Gloves. These gloves are designed for winter outdoor sports like snowboarding, skiing, climbing, running, and more.
The gloves are made with windproof, fast-drying, and breathable materials to keep hands moisture-free. They also feature anti-skid palm patches for a better grip. The slip-on cuff fits comfortably on the wrist without inhibiting movements.
The thumb and pointer fingers feature a sensitive touchscreen function to allow you to track your outdoor workouts on your phone, though sadly, they’re not waterproof, so if you get your cardio from competitive snowman building, you’re out of luck.
While the gloves are made to be short and cut off on the wrist to allow for increased mobility, some buyers are hoping the brand will come out with a longer pair to keep wrists warm as well.
The padded spandex back and neoprene knuckle pad offer cushioning for extra comfort, while the terrycloth panel on the thumb allows you to wipe sweat from your brow as you work. The flexible gloves have the full range of dexterity that you need when you are on the job. They are also touchscreen-capable on the thumb and index fingers.
Cons: These gloves are warm enough for city life, but certainly not suited for the Arctic Circle
Sizing options: One size fits most
Just because the weather has taken a turn for the worse doesn’t mean that your sense of style has to do the same. Il Caldo’s Thick Winter Drive Gloves are not only extremely warm, but also quite elegant.
Lined with both cotton and wool, these gloves are surprisingly warm and fantastic at insulating your hands against the snow and wind. There are a number of different styles available, but all feature unique details that allow these gloves to stand a cut above the rest when it comes to aesthetics. Whether it comes in the form of faux fur lining or the touchscreen finger tips, the Il Caldo offerings combine form with function.
Thanks to the wool and cotton construction, you can run these gloves through the wash without worrying about ripping them to shreds. I was pleasantly surprised to find that even after a few cycles, these gloves did not shrink, nor did they lose their ability to keep my hands cozy. The gloves also feature touchscreen tips, though, like many other gloves, this functionality is somewhat touch and go (no pun intended). — Lulu Chang
Best Gore-Tex gloves
If you’re looking to survive subzero conditions with all your fingers intact, Burton Gore-Tex gloves are the way to go.
The best invention of the last few decades may just be Gore-Tex. The waterproof, breathable fabric has the unique ability to block liquids while allowing water vapor to pass through, making for a dry, comfortable environment. When it comes to keeping your hands cozy and protected in seriously harsh conditions (wind, snow, sleet), one of the best options is the Burton Gore-Tex glove.
Pros: Incredibly warm, waterproof yet breathable, Sticky Icky palm technology allows for great grip
Cons: None to speak of
Sizing options: S-XL
Gore-Tex makes up the membrane of this glove, which ensures that it’s waterproof, but Burton also includes an integrated Thermocore layer of insulation for extra warmth. The outside of the glove is made from a double layer of DryRide Ultrashell fabric, which is windproof and waterproof, but will still let your hands breathe.
If you’re looking to do work in these gloves, that’s possible too thanks to the Sticky Icky technology in the palms that allow you to grip onto ski poles, shovels, or your significant other’s hand.
One of my favorite things about the Burton Gore-Tex glove is that it’s essentially three gloves in one. The fleece liner on the interior of the glove is removable, which means that you can either wear just the fleece, just the outer shell, or put them both together for days when it’s especially chilly out. If you opt to wear the fleece on its own, you can take advantage of its touchscreen technology (though to be fair, I’ve often had trouble using my smartphone without fully de-gloving).
Sizes are available from extra small to extra large, so folks of all genders will be able to buy and enjoy a pair. — Lulu Chang
Check out our other buying guides for cold-weather gear